Jump Start # 2429
Psalms 85:10 “Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
Our verse today brings together and joins powerful concepts. There are certain things that just seem to go together in life. Peanut butter and jelly; popcorn at the movies; Batman and Robin; grandchildren and giggles; friends and good times—these things are just made for each other and they fit so well.
In our verse, we find four powerful principles: lovingkindness, truth, righteousness and peace. What our verse does is link them together. They fit and they work together. But somehow through the years, some have scrambled these concepts up in their theology and see them as opposites. If these four words were on a table and we had to pair them up, most would lean towards lovingkindness and peace being on one side and truth and righteousness on the other side. The very word “righteousness” means to be right. How can you be right without truth. Seems logical and sensible. But this is not how the verse is constructed.
Lovingkindness meets truth. It’s as if these principles were people. They are walking towards each other and they pause and have a conversation. They meet. And, the flow of the passage is that they like each other and they stay together. Now, this is hard, especially in our culture of tolerance. To love someone, it is thought today, is to accept them as they are. Truth must be changed or ignored or there won’t be an atmosphere for love. But in our verse lovingkindness meets truth. They go together. They do fit well.
Without truth, one accepts error. Without lovingkindness, one becomes harsh and judgmental. The two words work together. They balance each other. Stand for truth, but do so in a spirit of love. Correct, but do so with gentleness. So, when love and truth meet, the right things will be done.
Love will keep us from running people off because they are different or we do not agree with them. Too many have walked into a church building with the fear of being judged as if they were walking down the runway of a fashion show. All eyes are on them and the critics are looking at every detail, from the way they dress, to where they sit, to what they are doing in worship. If one can pass the test, they may come back. Many don’t. Wrong outfit. Wrong version of the Bible. Wrong place to be sitting. Wrong hair style. Some are even bold enough to say something out loud. Feelings are hurt. Some never return. What’s missing is love. We ought to be thankful that folks are concerned enough about their souls that they came. Give them some slack. Give them some space. Put down the radar gun and put a smile on your face and invite them to sit with you.
But with love, comes truth. There’s the balance. All love and no truth, leads us to opening the barn doors to any and every idea. Make the people happy is what happens when truth is forgotten. Truth compels us to honor God first. Truth makes us seek answers in the Bible. Truth makes us be honest, first with ourselves and then with others. We must follow God. We must do things God’s way. That’s the voice of truth. Without truth, as contemporary churches illustrate, everything and anything goes. Truth keeps the kite from flying away. But truth is bound and presented in love. We don’t beat people over the head with truth, we open the door of salvation and show them a better way. With kindness, we help. Love and truth meet.
The other combination is righteousness and peace. They do more than meet. They kiss. Now, one doesn’t kiss strangers, at least not in this country. Implied is a relationship. It moves as if righteousness and peace not only know each other, but they now have a fondness and a love for each other. They want to be together. Righteousness is determined by God. He is the one that forgives and declares that one is now right or not guilty. Righteousness is a relationship term and a fellowship concept built around God. Peace follows righteousness. Without being right with God, there can be no peace. Without being right, we are guilty and in trouble. But righteousness brings peace. We are God’s children and we enjoy the relationship with God. All is well because we are with God.
These are not the only balance concepts in the Bible. Faith and works is one. Grace and doing our part is another. Bearing one another’s burdens and carrying our own burdens is another balance concept. Mercy and justice, both belong to God, and both go together. God’s love and God’s wrath, not opposites, but linked together. Heaven and Hell, while opposite eternal outcomes, they go together. To have one is to have the other.
What this passage shows us on a larger scale is the idea of balance. It is easy to lean too much one way. When we do, we tend to fall over. We need to be balanced in our preaching. We need to be balanced in our thinking. We need to be balanced in our attitudes. We need to be balanced in our talking to others. One sided religion usually becomes a lopsided religion. It’s easy to talk so much about baptism that we rarely mention grace. It’s easy to over emphasize works that we forget about faith. It’s easy to talk so much about “church” that we don’t talk about our personal walk with the Lord.
We understand this at home. If mom and dad are always critical and always complaining about the kids, they will grow up thinking that they can never do anything right and that home-life was tough, serious and without any joy. But the opposite can be just as true. Kids grow up thinking life is a perpetual summer camp, then they enter adulthood with that same unbalanced idea. There ought to be a balance between husband and wife. If he always gets his way, or she always gets her way, then things become tense after awhile.
Balance. The principles of God are not choices that we get to pick out which ones we want. We need them all. We must have them all. We must learn to balance them. This will keep us from leaning too far one way or the other.